DeSantis says he would have fired Dr Fauci in dig at Trump

·4 min read

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has criticised former President Donald Trump for his pandemic leadership, saying that he would have fired Dr Anthony Fauci, the former chief medical adviser to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

In an interview with Piers Morgan set to air on Fox Nation on Thursday, Mr DeSantis was asked what the differences are between him and Mr Trump.

“Well, I think there’s a few things. The approach to Covid was different. I would have fired somebody like Fauci. I think he got way too big for his britches, and I think he did a lot of damage,” he said, according to a column by Morgan published in the New York Post.

Dr Fauci became a hate figure on the right of American politics during the pandemic and required personal security because of the threat level against him.

The president of the American Medical Association, Dr Jack Resnick Jr, wrote late last year that “the most remarkable and important aspect of Dr Fauci’s character has been his unwavering commitment to science and evidence-based medicine, despite the political headwinds, hostility or criticism that came his way”.

“His fight against a tidal wave of medical misinformation that dates to the earliest days of the pandemic is a defining moment in his illustrious career. It is also a reminder, to all of us in medicine, of what courage and resolve in the face of enormous pressure look like,” he added.

Mr DeSantis also criticised Mr Trump’s style of leadership.

“I also think just in terms of my approach to leadership, I get personnel in the government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda,” he said. “You bring your own agenda in, you’re gone. We’re just not gonna have that. So, the way we run the government, I think, is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board, and I think that’s something that’s very important.”

Speaking of the number of mocking nicknames for him attributed to Mr Trump, such as “Tiny D”, “Meatball Ron”, and “Ron DeSanctimonious,” he said, “I don’t know how to spell the sanctimonious one. I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it’s long, it’s got a lot of vowels. We’ll go with that, that’s fine”.

“I mean, you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level,” he added.

“To me, it’s just background noise,” he told Morgan.

Donald Trump, Anthony Fauci, and Ron DeSantis (Getty Images)
Donald Trump, Anthony Fauci, and Ron DeSantis (Getty Images)

“It’s not important for me to be fighting with people on social media. It’s not accomplishing anything for the people I represent,” he added. “So, we really just focus on knocking out victories, day after day, and if I got involved in all the undertow, I would not be able to be an effective governor. So, I don’t think it’s something that makes sense for me.”

Morgan wrote that he reminded Mr DeSantis of what Mr Trump had tweeted about him when he first ran for governor in 2018.

“Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader. Yale and then Harvard who would make a great Governor of Florida. He loves our country. He’s a true fighter,” Mr Trump wrote at the time.

“Things have changed a little bit, I guess. It is what it is,” Mr DeSantis said.

He added that they had a “good relationship” when he was in Congress.

“I think one of the reasons he got to know me is because I saw the Russia collusion thing as a farce from the beginning. Very few people said that. We had a handful of us in Congress that were fighting back against that,” he said. “So, I would go on TV, and I would defend him when it wasn’t popular and when it was kinda politically risky, but I just thought it was the right thing to do and then I thought that he had good ideas for the country. And then when I became governor, his last two years as president, we worked very well together. He had a place in Florida and worked well with us to serve our state.”

“The major thing that’s happened that’s changed his tune was my re-election victory,” Mr DeSantis said of his 2022 win.